We admit it: This article has been motivated purely by our own selfish needs. It’s been raining for days in normally sunny Southern California, and we don’t have a stylish umbrella to take out with us. Waaah! In fact, every one we open up turns out to be severely “spoke challenged,” posing a danger to any eyeballs that dare come too close.
We began fantasizing about a chic, new umbrella and immediately traveled to the land of Burberry. When Christopher Bailey sent down his army of models onto the runway into a faux-rainstorm, umbrellas in hand, the fashion world swooned. What could be more British, more Burberry, than a finale that featured one of England’s most notable (and bemoaned) weather phenomena? The striped umbrellas, some with studded handles that matched the models’ gauntlet-like gloves, were a standout accessory that not only gave Bailey’s presentation a striking finish, they transformed the humble umbrella — an accessory that we rarely, if ever think about — into something to covet. So we gathered up our favorite umbrellas, just in time for L.A.’s first winter storm, that will lift your spirits in even the most miserable downpour.
In addition to his Spring 2013 womenswear show, Christopher Bailey also had his male models walk with umbrellas in hand during the menswear shows in Milan. One difference? That would be the custom sculpted handles that the guys sported — a stark contrast to the more rock ‘n roll vibe of the ladies’ studs. The Burberry man is rooted in classic British tradition, which might be why the motifs lean towards mallards, retrievers and rams, all classic icons of hunting and sport. In stores, the dog and duck designs sold out so fast that the brand had to scramble to create more — even in locations that barely see a drop of rain. So if you can’t find a Prorsum line umbrella, opt for a more attainable (and affordable) option from Burberry’s contemporary line. We love the bright color, which is a remix of the brand’s classic Haymarket check, and the one-hand operation. With nothing more than the push of your thumb, your stunning umbrella will open to reveal the house plaid and keep you covered in high style.
Available at Nordstrom.
At first glance, the Alexander McQueen Large Skull-embellished umbrella might seem run-of-the-mill, but in true McQueen style, the devil is in the details. Like Burberry, McQueen is quintessentially British, though the label draws from more macabre and sinister roots than the thrill of the hunt and Downton Abbey. Sleek and sophisticated, the umbrella is classic in every sense. It’s clean and black, which won’t make you stand out in a crowd, but you’ll know you’ve got a real piece of art in your hands when you see the intricate skull on the handle. The skull isn’t just a house motif: It embodies the gothic glamour that Alexander McQueen is built on. No matter how dreary the weather, the umbrella’s dark beauty will shine through.
Available at Net-a-Porter.
Our choices have proven that when it comes to slick umbrellas, the Brits have a stronghold on design. But even though it’s basic black, the Paul Smith Umbrella is anything but ordinary. Like your LBD, this little black umbrella won’t clash with anything you’re wearing, and the curved handle makes it easier to carry than the McQueen stunner. But for those in the know and for anyone with 20/20 fashion vision, the subtle rainbow stripe is all it takes to bring a standard umbrella into standout territory. Paul Smith’s signature swirled stripes trim this simple umbrella, which also fits right into your purse. Few accessories are practical and punchy, but this one definitely fits the bill.
Available at Nordstrom.
For flashier weather phenomena, we’re fans of umbrellas from London Underground, makers of umbrellas beloved by GQ and menswear bloggers from around the world. While Club Monaco carries a few styles, including basic black and an eye-catching camouflage accented with orange, we’re in love with the brand’s online store, which offers the full line, including collabs with big names such as Monocle magazine. Our pick is the King of Clubs, which features a design pulled straight from a deck of cards. It’s a big Lewis Carroll, a bit Mod and completely irresistible.
Available at London Underground.
And from our side of the pond is a grab-and-go option from Marc by Marc Jacobs. Bright, cheerful and purse-friendly, this is an lower-priced option with a huge impact. The bright red hue coupled with the subtle Marc by Marc Jacobs logo splashed across the whole umbrella will fight off the worst weather situations without dragging down your cheery winter outfits. It’s one of our favorite portable umbrellas. Not only will it be bright when you’re using it, the shocking red color makes it easy to find when you’re fishing through your purse. And the price? At just $58, it won’t break your heart if you leave it in a taxi–well, at least not as badly as leaving a McQueen one behind!
Available at Net-a-Porter.
Photos courtesy London Underground, Net-a-Porter and Nordstrom